Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Culturing Springtails (Collembola): Poison Dart Frog Food


Springtails are very small insects in the order Collembola. They are found all over the world but most people will never see them. They are called springtails because they have a spring-like projection at the end of their abdomens that allows them jump ("spring") into the air. Because of their small size they make great food for poison dart frogs. They are also extremely easy to culture.

There are many ways to culture spring tails. All you need is some type of plastic container with, a substrate for them to crawl on, water, and food. Examples of food include rice, brewers yeast, fish food flakes, chopped mushroom, whole wheat flour, and oatmeal. I will outline 2 methods here.

Charcoal Method

Take a plastic container with a tight fitting lid and fill it half way with pieces of 100% natural wood lump charcoal (do not use charcoal briquettes). Then add water to a level of 1/2 to 1 inch (most of the charcoal should be above the water). Sprinkle a very tiny amount of food on top of the charcoal and add springtails from an established colony (they can be ordered from many online companies). After two weeks you can start harvesting them.

Coco Fiber Method

Take a plastic container with a tight fitting lid and add 1 to 2 inches of very moist coconut fiber substrate. Sprinkle this with a tiny bit of food. Add springtails from an established culture. After 2 weeks you can start harvesting them.

Feed your spring tails every other day or as needed with a tiny bit of food. You don't want to feed them a lot at one time. Open your cultures once everyday to let fresh air in.

You can harvest springtails by: Removing some of the substrate and adding it to your frog tank. Flooding the culture with water until all the springtails float (you can't drown them) and then skimming them off the top or pouring some the water out. Tilting the culture and blowing the springtails out. You'll most likely figure out a method the works best for you.

Your culture could last for months or years.               

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